Kaimuki's 12th Ave Grill Goes Big

The biggest little neighborhood restaurant.


Published:

(page 3 of 3)

Jason Schoonover, 12th Ave Grill's executive chef, with chef/owner Kevin Hanney.
Photos: steve czerniak

Moving Pains

What happened in the year it took to move the old 12th Ave Grill into its new space.

Estimated time to open: Eight months

Time it actually took: One year

Opening date: Oct. 1, 2013

Original 12th Ave Grill space: 1,600 square feet

New space: 3,800 square feet

Why chef/owner Kevin Hanney moved: “Have I ever thought, what am I doing, is this the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life? Yes. Many times. I tell people [opening restaurants] is a disease. Once you get into it, you can’t stop. … I’ve got a young family, a young mortgage and retirement someday and the reality is that those two small places (12th Ave Grill and Salt) aren’t going to take care of everything. … If someone comes into this [Victoria Inn] spot and opens an American bistro, what’s that going to do to me up here? If there’s going to be an 800-pound gorilla in this neighborhood, I want it to be me. … I can open a business complementing my restaurants rather than competing.”

Cost for the original 12th Ave Grill: $150,000 to $175,000

  • Financing: credit cards and savings

  • Cost for the new 12th Ave Grill: $1 million: $750,000 for building improvements (plumbing, electrical, grease trap), the rest for fixtures, furniture, equipment and staff training

  • Financing: It’s complicated. There are seven entities involved: 65 percent of the investment is a loan from First Hawaiian Bank. The other six are individual investors or investor groups, with a minimum $50,000 investment each. “All of the investors are customers of the restaurant. Who else is going to believe in you more than your regulars?”


Things that went wrong along the way:

  • Breakdowns: His and his wife’s cars, and his computer. At least Hanney’s sanity is intact, as far as I can tell.

  • Between a rock and a hard place: Discovering blue rock underneath the space, an extra-hard rock that made installing underground utilities and a 1,000-gallon grease trap take 10 times as long as planned.

  • Shhh, namaste: Due to the yoga studio above, ceiling work could only be done in half-hour to two-hour increments when yoga classes were not in session.

  • All signs point to … Victoria Inn? The new 12th Ave Grill opened with the Victoria Inn sign, due to a sign permit snag.

  • Name game: Luke’s Cafe, originally the name Hanney chose for his breakfast spot in the old 12th Ave Grill space, could not be registered. It was too similar to existing businesses. The new name: Koko Head Cafe.

“I want to just get back to what I do, which is running restaurants, not running construction sites.”

Read More Stories by Martha Cheng

 

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